Let's Remove Kirner's "Trigger" Lock, for the Children
Thursday, October 17, 2013 5:00 PM
LAS VEGAS - In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, columnist Dan Henninger
declared that the ongoing failure of inner-city schools "remains
the greatest moral catastrophe in the political life of the United
States." Personally, I think Mr. Henninger is understating the
Henninger was writing about the future of public charter schools in
New York City, noting that the Democrat candidate for mayor, "under
pressure from the city's teachers union, will start demanding rent
payments from public charter schools that now operate rent-free in
the same buildings occupied by traditional public schools."
Apparently New York City public charter schools, which are public
schools funded with public taxpayer dollars, are allowed to operate
in public school buildings, which, of course, makes all the sense in
the world. Alas, no such provision exists in Nevada, which, of
course, makes no sense whatsoever.
It also goes a long way towards explaining why there are so few
charter schools in Nevada - just 35. (By contrast, in neighboring
Arizona there are well over 526.)
Fact is the greatest impediment to opening more public charter
schools here is the humongous start-up costs involved in finding a
building in which to operate the school. Which is also one reason
why so many new charter schools are opening as "virtual" schools,
in which students participate online rather than attending a
Granted, a recent change in Nevada law has set up a program for
lending money to start-up charter schools, but that's still not
good enough. Loans have to be repaid, ultimately with taxpayer
dollars anyway. So why can't vacant or underperforming regular
public school buildings be converted into a public charter school?
Indeed, a bill that would have allowed the parents of an
underperforming public school to vote to convert it to a public
charter school passed in the state Senate this year. Unfortunately
it was killed in the state Assembly by Republicans - led by
Assemblyman Randy Kirner (R-Reno) - who voted against this
"parental trigger" bill because Kirner claimed, wrongly, that it
violated the state prohibition against using a public school building
for a public charter school.
Whether or not the state law prohibiting the use of public buildings
to house a public charter school would also prohibit "parental
trigger" conversions isn't the point. The point is if we want
more charter schools in Nevada - and we'd better if we ever hope
to actually improve education here - we need to completely remove
this ridiculous prohibition in state law.
Public charter schools are public schools which should be allowed to
use public school buildings just like the other public schools. Is
there a legislator out there who cares enough about the education of
our children to propose removing Assemblyman Kirner's "trigger"
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grassroots
He can be reached at www.MuthsTruths.com.